Going to jail to stay alive?

Let’s say there’s this person who basically feels as though they do not have any future prospects. Because they don’t want to work (or find it too hard to find a reliable source of income), they decide to commit some sort of crime, believing that this action can land them in jail, where they’ll get some free food and a nice roof above their heads.

Besides being a blatant abuse of the system, what is wrong about this, or could potentially go wrong? Accounting for the above, is there anything else stopping people from doing such a thing?

I’m finding a lot of fragmented stories about the likes here and there, but nothing that really satisfies my question. If possible, I’d like to leave out the “going to jail/prison to meet up with fellow gang members” scenarios.

Don’t need answer fast.

What could potentially go wrong? Well that depends on how big a fan this person is of butt rape i guess.

Well, you could be a character in an O. Henry story

Not for the long haul…

A ~65 year old grandmotherly family friend was caught by a snowstorm in a small Virginia town years ago. The roads were too hazardous to continue traveling and there was no hotel in town.

Realizing she was stuck for the night and seeing no other good options she asked if she could sleep in the waiting area in the police station. The asshole cop told her no.

She walked outside, found a rock, and proceeded to smash a window at the police station. She was arrested, got a cell for the night and a meal, and a judge who made her pay for the window and let her go with a warning the next day.

I’ve spent a night in the Kansas City PD lockup following a protest. The food sucks! A baloney sandwich for dinner, the worst cherry sweet roll for breakfast.

Not exactly the OP but close:

Man Robs Bank For $1 To Get Healthcare

I’d rather suffer the indignity of daily trips to the local soup kitchen than choke down prison loaf each and every day of my life.

I also like having socks and sanitary supplies.

Not to mention being able to get my ass out of the way of a hurricane.

There is nothing free or nice about prison.

You do come across this from time to time.

Here is one,


The real story is that he was cold, wet, broke and hunbgry with no prospect of improvement in the near future.

I realize there are incidents here and there where the sole purpose is to get themselves some sort of aid through the imprisonment system. What I’m wondering though is if there’s anything that really stops them from being able to do this to begin with.

The butt rape thing I feel is over-exaggerated and not as common as you’d believe it to be. Besides, if you were willing to go to jail/prison, I’m pretty sure you’d be able to hold enough confidence to ward off potential rapists. The prison “rape” is largely consensual, so I’ve read.

Aren’t those largely isolated cases (well, besides the prison loaf)? Living on the streets has a whole different slew of problems than being locked up in confinement such as extremely minimal benefits and increased crime rate against the homeless. I’m not very well versed on the soup kitchen or their general benefits (assuming that we actually ARE talking about homeless people being the only types to commit these types of crimes), but I can only imagine it’d be extremely crowded and difficult to get your own share.

I hope it’s not too much concern if I use ‘jail’ and ‘prison’ interchangeably. Heck, wouldn’t it be more “successful” if you got yourself thrown into prison anyhow?

I’ve seen guys deliberately get locked up short term to avoid cold weather, and heard stories from jail staff about same.

Guy at booking window: “Lock me up tonight, it’s freezing out there.”
Deputy: “We can’t just lock you up when you haven’t committed any crime.”
Guy: “Well, what if I peed in that trash can over there?”
Deputy: (Long sigh) “Yeah, that’d do it.”

Not sure what you’d do about it, aside from letting people pee in trash cans.


You’re wondering if there’s anything that stops a person from committing a crime for the express purpose of going to jail?

Very little.

The cops are there to make the arrest after the crime has been committed. The only way they can stop you from committing a crime is if they arrest you for a crime you’ve already committed (unless they are Tom Cruise and you’ve got a bit part in Minority Report).

If you don’t care that you’re going to be arrested, then the only things that might keep you from committing a crime are:

  1. a sense of guilt at the harm your crime will cause to your victim, and

  2. the worry that your victim may defend himself or his property with deadly force. In other words, you’ll end up in the morgue instead of prison.

I have an admittedly disturbing theory about people like the Batman Shooter and similar mass murderers. Nearly all of them, at least recently, have been young adults near the end of their educative years, with few social skills and poor prospects for earning a living after college. At least, it feels that way to them. My theory is, they are so afraid of the Real World, so afraid of the very scary potential for getting stuck in a thankless job or even becoming homeless, that they choose (perhaps unconsciously) to commit some heinous act of violence that will guarantee them three hots & a cot for life.

It’s just a theory, but as shown in this thread, there are many other confirmed cases of criminals breaking the law specifically to go to jail, especially if they’ve become institutionalized.

I’ve read differently, that most prison rape is coercive, i.e. not violent, but not precisely consentual.

The problem with that theory is most of them die in the process, often killing themselves at the end.

I’ve seen 2 instances personally.

Several years ago I was a welfare caseworker and a young man (20s-30s) came in to apply for adult Medicaid. He was fresh out of prison (something nonviolent but still carried a term of several years), on parole, and had just been diagnosed with cancer … was either prostate or testicular, I think it was the latter. He wasn’t eligible for Medicaid.

So he violated his parole to go back to prison so he could get cancer treatment.

Another time … before cancer guy … I was doing an internship in a courthouse. Met an adorable young couple whose car had been completely smashed up with a baseball bat. The bastard that did it had JUST been released from prison and wanted to go back in where he’d be provided for, so he did a number on their car and the car of one of their neighbors.

So yeah. It happens.

I see the drawback as being, that if your rosy picture of life in prison is wrong you can’t change your mind.

That and a couple of murders should be enough to get the job done, no need to go on to a couple of dozen.

At that point in time, they’d probably see no difference in killing extra people; why stop now?

Not necessarily rosy, but most likely not as bad as before they had committed the crime.
I’m gonna assume the answer to this next question is going to ‘no,’ but prosecutors don’t vary charges/punishments of criminals based on their motives, do they? Essentially, they can “freely abuse the system” without much hindrance (besides stuff like guilt and premature death or whatnot).

Actually, the loaf is very rare as well. It’s considered a last resort punishment for extreme disciplinary cases.